GEORGE TOWN: For most, a refrigerator is a foregone conclusion in the modern household. But for some, owning one means food can be put on the dinner table.

Tan Phiak Hwa, 65, who lives in a low-cost flat in Sungai Dua, helps supplement the family income by selling bottled cultured milk.

Hers is a familiar sight as she drags her small cooler bag in a wheel basket every morning to a market, looking for customers.

But Tan’s old fridge that used to store the cultured milk was too small and she could not make as much as she could.

However, she was finally able to grow her small business when presented with a larger fridge last year under the 1AZAM programme.

“The new fridge can store about 500 bottles compared to only 200 in the old one,” Tan said.

“This means that I can include more stops in my route and can easily go home to stock up when business is good.

“The money I earn is for marketing as the family eats at home everyday.

“I earn about RM300 monthly but hope to earn more as I widen my route,” she said, hoping that the Government could help provide her with a stall where she could also sell drinks and fried bee hoon.

“It will be less tiring and I will not need to walk around with the milk bottles everyday.”

The elderly woman had to quit her job eight years ago as a kitchen helper because of difficulty in breathing due to smoke inhalation.

She suffers from asthma.

She turned to selling the cultured milk as her two sons did not earn enough to contribute to the household while her 68-year-old husband was an odd-job worker.

Tan, with her red cooler bag, has also been a familiar sight at public events and shops in the area.

She added that like 1AZAM, the 1Malaysia clinic was another initiative that benefited the people as they provided cheap and efficient treatment for her asthma and eyes.

Kedahan Noraini Hussain, 45, is another beneficiary of the 1AZAM programme. The widow with five children was able to expand her catering business after receiving a fridge and rice cooker last year.

“I started my kuih-making business in 2010 with only RM50.

“Now I operate a food stall in Universiti Sains Malaysia and also run a catering business part-time.

“The electric rice cooker and fridge I received were timely, and I am grateful,” she said, lauding the Federal Government’s initiative.

She said she earned RM3,000 a month in the early days of her business but now took home triple the amount.

The 1AZAM programme was implemented to increase the revenue stream for the poor through four key efforts: AZAM Kerja, AZAM Tani, AZAM Niaga and AZAM Khidmat.